Get ready to experience the vibrant hues of ‘Patayani’ this April

Come April and the tiny hamlet of Kadammanitta in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala will witness the world’s most majestic display of the ritual art form of Patayani- the Kadammanitta Patayani.

The event will start on April 15, during the auspicious occasion of the harvesting festival, Vishu. Proceedings begin with the lighting of fire and the beating of the ‘thappu’ (Patayani percussion instrument) to appease Goddess Bhadrakaali. The fire for this ritual is brought from the sacred lamp inside the temple.

The following days devotees can witness the procession of various Padayani Kolams. It starts with the kolam of Ganapathi. The other kolams in the procession are Marutha, Kalan, Kuthira, Madan, Pakshi, Yakshi, and Bhairavi. The main comic interlude of Kadammanitta Padayani is Paradeshi.

The Valiya Padayani begins with the ceremonial procession of kolams from the village square. The giant Bhairavi kolams made of areca spathes and intricately cut palm leafs look like life-size images of the Bhoothaganas (armies) of Goddess Bhadrakali in the light of indigenous torches made of dry coconut leaves is the major attraction on the big day. The grandiose ‘Bhairavi Kolam’ performance is the main attraction of the Valiya Padayani day. The day also witness the Koottakkolam (group of kolams) performance, comprising a Ganapathi kolam, four Marutha kolams, one Kalan kolam , eight Yakshi kolams, Kanjiramala, and Bharavi kolams. The Valiya Padayani concludes with the artistes and the devotees seeking divine blessings from the goddess.

The Koottakkolam performance will be held after the Athazhapuja in the evening on all days. The ‘Thappukottu’, the traditional Padayani percussion performance, will begin at 9 p.m. and the ritualistic dance ‘kolamthullal’ at 11 p.m. on all days during the festival. The annual Padayani festival will come to a close with the Pakal Padayani on the morning of the 10th day.

Darika was a demon who asked the gods to make him so powerful that no man could kill him. The gods granted his wish and later on he went on a rampage, and the gods, realising their folly, sought Shiva’s consul. Shiva opened his third eye and unleashed Kali. She beheaded Darika as the gods but her anger raged on, destroying all in her path. At this time, Shiva called upon his demons — Marutha, Pishachu, Yakshi — who assumed different kolams, or forms, and danced before Kali till she smiled, which is believed to be the myth behind the festival.

The annual festival at Kadammanitta will come to a close with the Pakal Padayani to be held on the forenoon of April 24, followed by the Kalamezhuthu pattu in the evening.

The other major attractions in Pathanamthitta are the Konni elephant training centre and Adavi and Gavi. You can spend half a day at the Konni ecotourism centre and head to Adavi, which is just a 30-minutes’ drive away. The coracle ride at Adavi will be for an hour and is and ideal spot to spend a nice evening  with family or friends.